Back to front

County bitchins

The first in an occasional series — even more occasional than the fanzine itself — where we look at the peculiar characteristics of various UK counties. This issue: Surrey

I have seen a vision of hell and it is Station Street Woking, Irish pubs for the non-existent Hibernian community, fights in the kebab shop, rows between Asians and whites, mass jostling at the McDonalds counter.

Statistics show that commuters waiting for their SouthWest Trains connection consider jacking it in and fucking off at least several times a minute. "Good schools, excellent connections to the City, easy reach of the countryside", the housing adverts pitch to would-be buyers wanting a piece of the "stockbroker belt". But the truth is Surrey is mostly mindless suburbia created for aspirant parents whose offspring are likely to disappoint them in their dreams of replication. It is the perfect landscape for feeding ideas of flight. These arrivistes from further afield merge with middle-class families who have lived in the area for generations, and a mostly ignored indigenous working class who originated from the immigrant and local peasantry in the area.

The county is one of the most-laughed at because it has brought jack shit to popular culture. Indeed, it is the place ageing rock stars are most likely to end up in as their muse slowly deserts them, and they dream of pastoral retreats. Where Manchester, for example, has a potted tapestry of clubs and bands, Surrey’s contribution to history is the Walton Hop, a teenage club run as a recruiting ground by pop music paedophiles like Jonathon King. In the late 80s, ravers came to party in the fields but that was strictly a transitory moment in time: they wouldn’t be staying and nor would the landowners want them to.

One of the few local ‘heroes’, Paul Weller, embodied the local dichotomy: prescient enough to see what was wrong with small-town culture but ending up a flag-waving traditionalist like the rest of them who never made it out of the mire to see the difference. Come back to what you know. Pointless.

Like a reverse of the Yorkshireman Fry & Laurie character, who aims to beat his London companion for scale and size on any trivial point ("Sally Hardcastle runs the biggest crack-house in Europe"), Surrey has recently been unveiling its darkside. Serial rapists go uncaught, Milly Dowler’s body gets found in woods and ongoing investigations seem unable to uncover the blatant institutionalised bullying at army barracks. Mindless suburbia breeds the misanthrope. In my hometown, the first consignments of crack (then called ice) were discovered back in the 80s.

Yet these days, in this homogenised culture of ours, there is nothing to distinguish the lumpen ignorant High Street masses — that is the active working class and their lower-middle and middle-class counterparts — in one part of the country to the other. On Saturday nights, Guildford City Centre teems with pissed-up idiots in their identikit brands stumbling out of Bar Med, Yates, Edwards, Wetherspoons, looking for a row if they haven’t been able to pull. It’s Deansgate Manchester, the Quayside Newcastle, it’s En-ger-land towny culture (none of them a live in the town itself) and it’s moribund.


Sandals chaffing?

Wear proper shoes you cunt, not socks.



A frank
exchange of

In a new weekly series we take a monthly sample of the philosophical temperature in the changing rooms of the Premiership and, my, how they are changing — Lawrence Lllewllyn-Bowen would be ... oh shut the fuck up with that tired self-congratulatory hacking (Ed Balls). This week we travel to Hampshire and Merseyside to act as the metaphysical conduit to Jason Dodd and Kévin Campbell’s reflective tête à tête

JD: Enchanté Kévin.

KC: Oh must you use such tired, 18th century introductions Jason? We’re not in the court of King Louis XIII, now are we? Although I strongly suspect that our current market value would outweigh that of any past, present or indeed, future monarch.

JD: I consider myself justly reproached, ‘King Kev’, as the tabloids have never christened you.

KC: Well quite. If I were to be labelled with such an atrocious moniker I would instantly advocate regicide.

JD: Never let those snivelling hacks dictate the terms upon which you are known to the ‘tifosi’ — our captors and saviours.
                On an entirely separate point, Brett Ormerod has raised some interesting points during prandials (or ‘nosh up’ as that ghastly prole Christopher Marsden insists upon calling it) these past weeks. I would like your opinion on one particular point Kévin, which directly relates to your own ethnic origins and the experience of first, second, third and fourth-generation players of Afro-Caribbean, African and Afro-American descent in the English game.

KC: I will do my best to contribute but I must warn you, I am likely to revert to my primal state and either kill or rape you [a mutual chuckle is shared].

JD: Oh Kévin, I certainly hope that my alma mater Mr Strachan and that detestable stockbroker, who has an unfortunate amount of control at this saintly club, get around to taking on your wages, as I believe that you would be a worthy intellectual addition to the cerebrally challenged stock currently plying their trade at these impressive new surroundings.
                Succinctly, Mr Ormerod appears to have inadvertently hit upon the implicit racism within all football coverage — even the relatively erudite contributions from Green et al at BBC Radio Five Live. Why is it that all black players, regardless of their allocated role within the team, almost always, according to execrable commentators and reprehensible pundits alike, possess the same attributes, physical characteristics and (invariably quite literally) strengths?

KC: Hardly succinct Jason, but I digress. The answer to Mr Ormerod’s disarmingly naïve query is quite simple: a great deal of footballers and football supporters are racist and the imperialist/colonialist stereotypes/assumptions about black people (they exist ten-fold in wider society of course, but it is particularly useful to de-humanise and compartmentalise in a sporting environment) must be perpetuated to provide bigoted comfort to disenfranchised white men, most of whom are deterred from attending the modern game because of ticket prices, the ubiquity (and ubiquity of superficial acceptance) of black players in the Premier league or both. This has something to do, I feel, with a 19th century perception of British/English national identity. Xenophobia and racism come easily to the English/British and the deferential working class white men who played the game, exclusively, in England until the 1970s are now in the positions of authoritative and administrative power in the game.
                They are, and have always been, the brown shirts enforcing the upper class ideology of ‘knowing one’s place’ and not ‘having ideas above your station.’ Look at Bobby Charlton’s bristling reference to his ‘lovely English country garden’ in a recent advertising abomination and you get some impression of the mind set. And, in order to even up the Manchester references, ask Mike Summerbee about Englishness and you would think that you have wandered into a BNP lecture authored by el diablo himself, Welshpool’s own Nicholas Griffin.
                You will note, and I suspect Mr Ormerod may have also, that white players are more readily distinguished by nationality but black players are rarely attributed with such a distinction. Their nationality is only an issue when they have the audacity to play for an African national side and have not been through the colonial assimilation mill (again very 19th century). If Arsenal had more white French players the xenophobia would be more extreme than current levels. I believe and hope that Mr Wenger is very aware of the entrenched net curtain, self-disciplined, anti-education fascism that continues to fill its lungs with sofa dust and discontent in the front rooms and editorial offices of the UK and is calling its bluff quite effectively. Having said this, I do not consider him to be employing ‘positive discrimination’ or any other such liberal tosh in his transfer policies, it just happens that most affordable players of international repute happen to be black.

JD: Kévin, it is a triumph. I believe that the great tradition of pamphleteering should be continued with the publication of this marvellous polemic, tract, er… stunning invective. Call it what you will, this would pull the wool of institutional racism from the eyes of the public and bring down the Murdoch press. Mr Ormerod would, no doubt, concur, as I myself do, with this marvellous, breathtaking...oh I’m quite lost for words...

"It’s a no-win situation. But we can
win it by winning it"

Gary Doherty, Spurs, on the eve of a cup-tie with Burnley, November 2002 (that they didn’t win)

Meanwhile, Charlton Athletic v Tottenham Hotspur has just finished a hard-fought 1-1 home victory to the south-east London side. After the showers, shave and dress, the players meet as usual in the stadium lounge. Old friends Valiants left back Paul Konchesky, espresso, and Spurs right-back Stephen Carr, crème de menthe, manage to break out among the mixed set of groups for their customary bi-season chat:

P Konchesky: A hard-fought draw sans pareil de nos jours Comrade Stephen. What did your foul brethren in the Spurs changing area think of the "stalemate" soi-disant, which of course with the chances on view today it was very far from being?

S Carr: Regrettably, I could find nothing of reason in their mots injustes Paul. That ignorant Sheringham merely vocalised something along the lines of "fackin’ hell, we should have whipped ‘em", while Stefan Freund was banging his head against the wall in his private diabolical injustice, as ever. With the quite-expected volley of clichés to follow from team, managers and staff alike, I felt I was on the slick chrome vulgarity of the ITV-broadcast The Premiership. Where I can only assume it is their inveterate amateur status as broadcasters which makes them utter such ribald nonsense. I had to ask one of the Spurs lackeys to prepare my private salle des bains with alacrity.

PK: Indeed. Players, ex-players and even the media professionals exhibit such a dire appreciation of the aesthetic beauté of the game; their analysis and reviews amount to a jumbled-up facsimile of previous screenings: Clive Tyldsley’s hysterical bias of certain players and certain clubs, where to break the vacuity of his own flow he mentions games and goals quite unrelated to the current commentary; Clive Allen’s constant gist-unravelling within a few sentences, finally summarising something unrelated to the original stream; the tired routine of the post-match interview; the tacky appendage of the latest guitars and rhythm popular music. I now insist to my coterie that we listen to Poulenc or some such other of Le Six, and turn down completely such arrant drivel.

SC: A most prudent move, my good man. For my own situation, a domicile ban on broadcast sport has been fruitful in preserving — you’ll pardon the lazy juxtaposition there — my conception of our pastime. To think of getting anyone among this lumpen corporate business to air their opinions on the current verité of global destabilisation. All I hear is ignorance towards Iraq vis à vis the grand guignol of the US’ black gold raids, jingoism in relation to the Bali Mow — you’ll do my bidding for that one though — and sanctified mendacity towards the "racism in Europe" question. I consider myself fortunate if I pass one training session without being called ‘Mick’ or ‘Paddy’.

Teddy Sheringham (placing a pint of lager on the table): Wahey!! Come on Stevey lad, get this down you, it’s the Sat-day night razz!! Last one to Sugar Reef has to pay for the bubbly ‘n wraps.

SC: Um, ok Edward, I’ll join the scrum anon.

TS (already off somewhere else, feigning a ‘street’ accent): Aiight lads, Steve’s in the inner sanctum with us tonight. (hearing the lounge system play the latest disco-house) Wicked tune — come on!

PK: He truly lacks grace, such a paradox with his usually pensant approach on the groundsmen’s carefully manicured green baize. But if I can steer the debate back to the corporate malaise affecting our hopelessly mature capitalist — I should just say avaricious — world. I remarked upon the recent accounting scandals, the pandemic of Enronitis if you will, to my fellow Valiants and was left non-plussed with their replies. John Robinson said of the accountants that "you can’t blame ‘em for sticking their fingers in the pies", while Dean ‘Deano’ Kiely said it didn’t bother him as he "can’t be fucked with all that stocks and shares shit". I was almost shamed into quoting him verbatim. While I admired his laissez-faire attitude in a world where you’re never too far away from your next junk mail about pensions or credit cards, surely it is the job of the knowing elite to inform this lumpen plebiscite — calling them proletariat or bourgeois carries no resonance in modern times. That the conniving and deceit goes all the way to the summit of Bush administration and Blairite cabinet, and indeed informs the decision-makers in non-too-subtle ways?

SC: I quite agr…

TS: …Come on Carson!! You got five minutes to finish your jar and you ain’t even started! (immediately distracted again)

PK: Leave it and leave here. My driver is taking me to Maison Novelli now. I suggest you join us (ends).

KC: ...I think you should calm down Jason.

JD: But surely this should be distributed in place of Metro, it is so important?

KC: Jason, if Darcus Howe said this he would be dismissed as paranoid and ungrateful (I’ve always liked that particular one, where if, as a black man, you complain about your circumstances in northern Europe you are being ungrateful. By that imperialist rationale, we should be giving praise, every day, for the fact that we haven’t been lynched or forcibly repatriated). Look Jason, Everton fans were singing ‘Everton are white’ up until ten years ago. This is a moderately conservative country that will never allow change to occur quickly or the truth to be told directly.

JD: But how do you effect change when it’s so easy to deter yourself from even suggesting that the status quo is both inadequate and false through a ‘media savvy’ reading of society and social structures?

KC: Look, bugger this, Jason Guevara, I’ve got to meet the lads down the Litten Tree tonight, for a spot of ‘bonding’ and the first round’s on me. If I’m not there to get it, as club captain, I’ll never hear the last of it.

JD: I must express my disappointment and exceptional anti-climactic feelings.

KC: I’m afraid Jason, we are the guards of our own prison.

JD: I can find solace solely in absinthe. Adieu Kévin.

KC: Yep. I’ll see you next week, after my meeting with Max Clifford. I’m to advise him on how to advise Leeds in their current race relations plight.

JD: You sir, are a scoundrel of Svidrigaylovian proportions...

Back to full contents          Film review